Bound For Glory News presents the Team of the Week for round five.
The Kennett Curse may be dead and buried but the rivalry between Hawthorn and Geelong will be eternal. Easter Monday provided us with another instant classic from the two with Geelong continuing their home and away season dominance over the Hawks, leaving the Cats as the only undefeated side in 2014.
Collingwood proved once and for all that their round one showing against Fremantle was an aberration as they suffocated North Meblourne’s ball movement to record a 35 point win.
The inconsistent Swans returned to their winning ways against the Dockers and with games against Melbourne and Brisbane to come and with Kurt Tippett nearing a return things are suddenly looking brighter in Sydney.
Port Adelaide have given themselves a near-perfect platform to launch an assault on the top four after Saturday’s win against West Coast left them at 4-1 and second on the ladder after round five.
Meanwhile Carlton finally recorded their first win of 2014 – showing they possess the fight which has come under scrutiny in the first month of the season. The Blues are far from out of the woods yet, though, with Chris Judd, Tom Bell and Ed Curnow set for extended stints on the sidelines after going down against the Dogs, which is sure to make things tougher.
It was a case of the young and old standing up for St Kilda on Saturday night with Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna being joined by Jack Billings, Jack Newnes and Luke Dunstan in leading the underdog Saints to victory against Essendon.
Here’s the Team of the Week for round five:
FB: Dane Rampe, Jack Frost, Jarrad McVeigh
HB: Steele Sidebottom, Harry Taylor, Alex Fasolo
C: Leigh Montagna, Trent Cotchin, Marc Murphy
HF: Pat Dangerfield, Nick Riewoldt (C), Steve Johnson
FF: Robbie Gray, Tom Hawkins, Ben McGlynn
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Josh P Kennedy, Gary Ablett Jr
Int: Dane Swan, Lachie Henderson, Travis Cloke, Nathan Gordon (sub)
Dane Rampe: Rampe’s journey from the VFL to the Sydney AFL to now being fully incumbent in the Sydney side is one of the best in the AFL. He was given the task of running with Chris Mayne on Saturday and kept him to 10 touches, while having 23 of his own.
Jack Frost: One could be excused for thinking Collingwood’s defence might struggle once Ben Reid and Nathan Brown; up steps Jack Frost. Frost manned up on Aaron Black – who starred for North last week – and restricted his influence to almost non-existent. With Nathan Buckley no doubt stressing over whether to play Ben Reid forward or back when he returns, Frost could prove to be the solution to all his problems if he maintains this form.
Jarrad McVeigh: The SCG is his playground and in the first half in particular on Saturday McVeigh was dominant. Finished with 29 disposals but the stats don’t show how crucial he was in giving Sydney a 21 point lead at half time.
Steele Sidebottom: Outside of the key position posts he wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in this team such is his versatility. Being fourth in line at Collingwood means he won’t cop a hard tag. Sidebottom racked up 34 disposals against North and was constantly there to pump the ball back in when North desperately bombed the ball out of their defensive 50.
Harry Taylor: He’s the key cog in the second best defensive unit in the game as it stands. Everyone knows how potent Hawthorn are in attack and Taylor was a huge player in keeping Hawthorn to their lowest score of 2014 on Monday. Whenever Hawthorn looked like going inside 50 Taylor was there organising his troops. Regularly rotated between Roughead, Hale and Gunston and was rarely beaten.
Alex Fasolo: Speaking of solutions to Nathan Buckley’s problems Alex Fasolo might just be the man to fill the void left in Collingwood’s backline since Leon Davis’ departure from the club at the end of 2011. The once-forward has been reborn in Collingwood’s defence this year and thus far has been a revelation. Had 32 disposals at a great 84% efficiency on Saturday.
Leigh Montagna: Either Lenny Hayes or Leigh Montagna could have occupied this spot but Montagna’s greater number of tackles and clearances meant he narrowly got the nod. The veteran was simply outstanding as St Kilda went to 3-2.
Trent Cotchin: The old adage that a week is a long time in footy rings true once again. Last week the Richmond skipper looked a shadow of himself but this week he was a superstar once again. It was simply a must-win for the Tigers and Cotchin was best on with 32 disposals.
Marc Murphy: Another instance of a captain standing up in a must-win game. Murphy looked at his very best as Carlton snapped their winless streak. His 28 touches and 12 tackles will put questions about his leadership at bay for at least one week.
Pat Dangerfield: 33 disposals – 18 contested – at 79% efficiency, nine clearances, six inside 50s and five goals. Never mind that it was against the lowly GWS: Dangerfield’s performance was incredible by any standards.
Nick Riewoldt (C): What is there to say about the St Kilda captain that hasn’t already been said? To suggest that he is enjoying a renaissance of sorts is to imply that he ever had a prolonged period of poor form and that’s simply not true. Even though he hasn’t won a flag – there’s still time as he is apparently ageless – Riewoldt is the best of the modern forwards such as Jonathan Brown, Travis Cloke and Buddy Franklin.
Steve Johnson: Except for maybe Paul Chapman, nobody enjoys playing Hawthorn more than Stevie J. Seemingly going wherever he wished Johnson had a lazy 34 disposals, 10 marks, six clearances and three goals on Monday and will have picked up another three votes. Will be right up there with the leaders for the Brownlow as it stands and if he can avoid his annual suspension he might just take Charlie home.
Robbie Gray: If the season were to end today he would be a shoe-in for a spot in a forward pocket in the All-Australian team. 24 disposals at 83% and two goals against West Coast was arguably his best performance of what has been a stellar season.
Tom Hawkins: Admittedly having 10 centimetres and 15 kilograms on his opponent Kyle Cheney helped but Hawkins still had to have ice running through his veins to kick three of his five goals in the final term to sink Hawthorn. His inconsistency causes more than a few headaches but when it comes to big games Hawkins rarely goes missing.
Ben McGlynn: 24 disposals and 10 marks is a great return from a medium-sized forward but it was his 12 tackles that was most impressive and would have garnered the most praise from John Longmire. His forward pressure was unparalleled in the league this week and if he can produce it consistently, it will make a big difference for the Swans.
Sam Jacobs: Hate to sound like a broken record but he truly is back to his best. With Shane Mumford down, ‘Sauce’ is the All-Australian ruckman right now and if his 25 disposals and 20 hitouts on Sunday isn’t enough to convince you then nothing is.
Gary Ablett Jr: This spot is as good as permanently is unless injury strikes him down – even then he could have 20+ touches and kick a goal or two.
Josh P Kennedy: Took a backseat to young guns Kieran Jack and Dan Hannebery in the Sydney midfield last year but has risen back to ascendency in 2014. 21 of his 38 disposals were contested on Saturday as he dominated at the coal face once again.
Dane Swan: This was the Dane Swan of old. He ran harder than we have seen him run in 2014 and as a result picked up 35 disposals and had 11 marks.
Lachie Henderson: Five goals and 16 disposals shows that the solution to Carlton’s forward line problems of late may have been residing down back. His best footy comes forward of the centre circle and now Mick must keep him there so he can settle rather than constantly moving him around.
Travis Cloke: If two guys taller than 195 centimetres who kicked nine goals between them not being quite good enough to make the field in the team of the week doesn’t convince you that key position forwards are far from gone, then you’re a lost cause. Cloke got on top of the rarely-beaten Scott Thompson and finished with four goals and 11 marks. As has always been the case consistency is now the key for arguably Collingwood’s most important player.
Nathan Gordon (substitute): Was a lacklustre week for the men in the green vests but Gordon pressed his case for a full game sooner rather than later. In just 34% game time Gordon had seven disposals, three marks, four tackles and kicked three goals.